(Day 1: outbound)
It was nice not to have a really early start, getting up at 0630 wasn’t too different to a work day but, with the holiday to look forward to, emerging from under the duvet was an awful lot easier.
Unlike the last few years we are flying direct from Manchester to Las Vegas, no long drive to and from Gatwick, no detour via Los Angeles or anywhere else. The taxi was parked outside ahead of schedule, so no reason to worry about it turning up. We emerged with our suitcases right on time at 0815 and after a very quiet ride we were at the airport half an hour later and exactly three hours before departure.
There was no queue to drop the cases off and we were soon through security via the fast pass lane, although Andrew’s bag was of course searched due to all of the electrical wires in it. We had thought of going to Giraffe for breakfast, but it turned out that there isn’t one in Terminal 2, so we opted for breakfast at Frankie and Benny’s. We had plenty of time for this, so we didn’t hurry through our full English / eggs Florentine, finishing it at about 10am.
We had a bit of a walk up and down the concourse and spotted our plane. When woke it was raining and breezy, but by now it looked like it was going to become lovely day.
Boarding was easy and settled ourselves in with the proffered bucks fizz, before an early push back and take off into the easterly wind at about 1150. We waved goodbye to the Pennines and soon after, to the Western edge of Scotland.
Now, annual blog readers may recall that Virgin seem to like to feed the passengers to stop them from getting restless…and today was no exception. Here is our food diary…
1115 pre-departure bucks fizz / champagne
1230 pre-dinner drink and pretzels
1300-1400 dinner of salad, main course with a roll, sticky toffee pudding, cheese and crackers, with drink, followed by coffee and liqueur
(Times below changed from 1400 to 0600)
0700 chocolate bar
0730 ice lolly
0830 round of soft drinks
0930 hot pasty (cheese and tomato or peppered steak)
0955 a round of juice or water
1130 sandwich with mini cakes and a warm scone with jam and clotted cream (note: real, proper sized mugs for tea and coffee – much appreciated!)
There had better be some serious hiking tomorrow…
OK. I can hear you saying that is enough about food and where is the scenery? For much of the route the sky was disappointingly filled with cloud, but we did get a few breaks and a look at the landscape below.
Snowy northern edge of Canada.
More snow in Canada, as far as you can see, which is probably quite a long way from 33,000 feet.
Fields somewhere in Northern USA.
The Rocky Mountain range in Montana (looking towards Yellowstone).
Salt Lake, Utah.
The start of the desert and cabins…
And then when we were above the red rocks….cloud!
There was eventually a glimpse of southern Utah, before what was possibly the Valley of Fire State Park and then Lake Mead on final approach. The landing was very smooth.
By the way, you know you have travelled this route a lot when (a) the cabin crew recognise you, (b) you recognise the ground staff in Las Vegas and (c) you can tell when they have done some redecoration of the immigration area.
Having landed before 2pm, there was a bit of a wait at immigration due to another flight having got in just before us, but it wasn’t too bad. It did mean virtually no wait for the suitcases, and then we were out into the warm afternoon to get the bus to the car rental.
Having pre-booked the car we went straight to the garage (with its Halloween decorations!) and we looked at all the cars we could pick from. Most were some form of Jeep. Andrew finally picked one, but sadly the cases didn’t all for in the boot so I vetoed that choice. Andrew used this as the best excuse ever to suggest…upgrading! I went off to negotiate a price and, consequently, we now have Andrew’s preferred choice of a Ford Explorer. I will provide a photo another day. Still, it must be good because not only does it have cup holders…they are illuminated!
The drive out to Williams was long and happily uneventful. Andrew did a good job of the driving the 207 miles; I sang along to the radio to keep him awake, passing him coca cola every so often. We passed Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam for the second time in one day and arrived at our motel just after 7pm. We benefitted from Arizona not adopting daylight saving time, which meant that there was no time change and we didn’t lose an hour, unlike most years when we do the drive to Springdale.
After checking in and putting our bags in the room we went straight out for dinner. We had both said how hungry were on the drive over…! By now it was more than seven hours since our last meal so we found a dinner, appropriately named Route 66 Diner. I had an omelette off the breakfast menu. I figured it was nearly 4am at home, so that made it OK.
And that is it for today. We have picked up some Grand Canyon amber ale and will attempt to stay awake long enough to drink a bottle after a shower and before bed. It was a good travelling day.